Tag Archives: congressional race

Is the GOP Energy Committee Chair Going Down in Michigan's 6th?

Fred Upton is the incumbent Republican Congressional Representative for southwest Michigan’s 6th district. Upton is considered to be one of Michigan’s most powerful Republicans. He is the Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which is an important position in relation to climate change. He has been in the House since being elected in 1986. Most of his elections since then, including after redistricting (when he went from the 4th to the 6th district) were easy wins. In 2012 he was “primaried” by the righter-wing, but still won handily (Wikipedia editors, note that Upton’s Wiki entry seems to have that race still in progress as of this writing).

Although he could be categorized as a moderate Republican, there really is no such thing any more. Since the Tea Party Takeover of the GOP, Upton seems to have voted the new party line most of the time.

This politically motivated adherence to lunacy is reflected in his stance on environmental issues. From Wikipedia:

Upton’s website once stated: "I strongly believe that everything must be on the table as we seek to reduce carbon emissions."

In April 2009, he maintained that "climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions. Everything must be on the table."

However, "Upton has gradually retreated from his moderate stance on climate change and carbon emissions."

In late 2010, he co-authored a Wall Street Journal editorial saying he was "not convinced" that "carbon is a problem in need of regulation," and urging Congress to overturn Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency.

Regarding the regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act being upheld in Federal Appeals court, Upton said that Congress’s refusal to approve greenhouse gas limits constituted a decision and that lawmakers should act now to reverse the United States Environmental Protection Agency emissions rules. Carbon regulation “threatens to drive energy prices higher, destroy jobs and hamstring our economic recovery,” per Upton.

Due to his environmental policies, the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2011 that Upton "represents one of the biggest threats to planet Earth on planet Earth."

In 2007 Upton was a co-sponsor of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which among other things mandated phased-in energy efficiency standards for most light bulbs. At the time, Upton noted that the legislation, ultimately signed into law by President George W. Bush, would "help preserve energy resources and reduce harmful emissions, all while saving American families billions of dollars on their electric bills."…

But in 2010, after Glenn Beck called Upton "all socialist" for supporting the bill, Upton led a failed effort to stop Obama from enforcing the new energy standards.

(See the original entry for sources.)

So, he’s won every re-election campaign by double digits, started out as a Reasonable Republican on climate change but then, following instructions from Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, shifted to the right. Though he has occasionally demonstrated a wide stance on the topic, it appears he can be easily slapped into place.

This year, Upton is being challenged by Paul Clements. Clements is a professor at Western Michigan University. He has done well with fundraising, including quite a bit from outside the district. It is said that he is running an excellent campaign.

A quick look at Real Clear Politics shows nothing on this race. That is an indicator that it was assumed to be settled. Publicly available polling (or, for that matter, useful private polling) in House races rarely happens when the presumed distance between the major candidates is double digit.

But now there is a poll, and it indicates a possible upset.

Clement’s campaign released a poll showing Clements within about 4 points of Upton (43-47%, with 10% undecided). The margin of error includes the spread, so it is a statistically dead heat.

According to the pollsters,

The race in Michigan Congressional District 6 has narrowed significantly in recent weeks, as voters have learned more about the negative aspects of Fred Upton’s tenure in Congress, and have been introduced to a viable alternative in Democrat Paul Clements. Additionally, political gaffes by Upton have brought scrutiny to this long-term incumbent who has never faced a credible challenger in a district that Barack Obama won in 2008 and trailed Mitt Romney by only 1.4 percentage points in 2012. Paul Clements has momentum in the closing days of the campaign, in what has turned out to be the most competitive congressional race in Michigan, for a seat that many thought was safe for Republicans

Numerically, the gap has closed in part because undecided are deciding (see graph) and partly because both candidate’s numbers are moving.

It is possible that messages will be sent.

A near loss is predicted to encourage Upton to retire. An actual loss is a slap in the face to the Republican Party’s leadership, given Upton’s position on the Energy committee. People will then argue over whether this was Upton’s loss or Clements’ win.

What are the “gaffes” mentioned by the pollsters? This is not entirely clear.

Clements is being supported, or perhaps more accurately, Upton is being opposed, by the Silicon Valley Mayday Pac. It is claimed that Upton’s people have pressured the pac donors, with the suggestion that they will have some trouble from Washington if they keep contributing to the effort to oust Upton, if Upton survives. That sounds inappropriate and all, but it also sounds kind of typical. This sort of thing is one of the reasons, of course, that we need campaign finance reform.

(As an aside, I find it interesting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has not been in this game. I agree with Mark Miller, the Democratic district chair, who is quoted as saying “[The 6th District is] the most Democratic seat in Michigan that’s held by a Republican. Why the DCCC has been unwilling to invest in this district is perplexing." But I digress.)

Do you want to get involved in this race, and possibly help affect the outcome? Check this out, a note I just got this from Climate Hawks Vote:

Something is happening on the ground in a small corner of Michigan. For weeks I’ve been hearing that people are fed up with Fred Upton and just tired of his allegiance to Big Oil. He’s ducking voters – he canceled a prescheduled debate with climate hawk Paul Clements to attend a prescheduled DC hearing, and canceled a NAACP appearance. DC papers are asking: is Michigan’s most powerful Republican really in political danger?

Climate Hawks Vote got into this race for the same reason we’re in every race: a powerful Republican (the chair of the House Energy & Commerce committee, no less!) denying science and blocking progress, a good climate hawk sending a message, and a potentially winnable race. How winnable? Every other climate/environmental group wrote it off as a longshot. But day after day, our Benton Harbor field organizer reports: "everyone’s voting for Clements." "Upton drifted too far right." "Time for a change."

So we’re going all in.

If you’re local – including South Bend, Indiana – come to our candidate forum Wednesday, October 29 at the Pilgrim Rest Church, 1105 East Main St., Benton Harbor, which we’re cosponsoring with the local NAACP chapter. Meet Paul Clements, because everyone who meets him ends up deciding to vote for him, and other candidates. Then #TurnOutForWhat – a voter rally! – on Friday, October 31 from 3:30 to 6 PM at the Citadel, 91 Hinkley St., Benton Harbor. (Sorry, no extra treats for dressing as a big spill in the Kalamazoo River.) Wear your walking shoes and your brightest smile to both. Can’t make either, but time this weekend? We’ve got doors to knock and people to call. Reply to this email, and we’ll find something for you to do.

Not so local? This is my last donation request of the 2014 campaign season. Money raised goes to pay organizers canvassing on the ground this weekend in Michigan. Talons-on-the-ground field operations won primaries in Hawaii and Arizona. I’m proud of the successful grassroots organization we’re building with your help. Thank you.